- Sometimes partners have different visions for the future—and while this can be scary, there is hope for working through this issue and making your future together a reality.
- You must be willing to have an essential, yet tough conversation and ultimately decide how to best move forward together.
- Before you initiate this conversation, you should think about what you really want, so you can successfully articulate it when the time comes.
- Then, you both have to decide to hear each other out and maintain open dialect.
- Discuss the situation as logically as possible, and if you need to, involve an unbiased third party such as a therapist.
- Therapists have a significant skill set that will help to guide this conversation and ultimately assist you and your partner in deciding what to do moving forward.
Imagine this: you and your partner are on your usual morning walk, but you decide to take a different route today. One that leads you to a beautiful grey, brick house with a huge front yard. “Wow, what an incredible house. Who knows, maybe one day, we’ll move out of our apartment and live there,” you say hopefully… only to be shot down by your less excited counterpart: “No way, I’d never buy a house here. We’ll be much happier on the West Coast.” You continue along without saying a word, but your mind is racing. You always envisioned starting a family in your hometown… not on the other side of the country.
Realizing you and your partner have different visions for the future can make your heart race. It can make you question everything. It can cause you to worry about whether or not you truly belong in each other’s futures. And while these nerves and worries are warranted, I have some good news: this doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. It’s possible to resolve this issue, if you and your partner are willing to communicate effectively and agree on how to move forward together.
Navigating A Tough, Yet Essential Conversation
If you and your partner have different priorities or visions for the future, it’s time to have a conversation. Remember the keys to communicating effectively—such as practicing empathy and understanding, keeping an open mind, and demonstrating respect—and take Health and Wellness Expert Caleb Backe’s advice for navigating this tough, yet essential conversation:
“Dealing with long-term projections in your relationship are much like making any variety of decisions in your life. The first thing you need to do before broaching the subject to your significant other is to spend some time really thinking about what it is you want, so that you’re certain about it when you bring the subject up for discussion. This way you are also able to figure out how you aim to achieve your goal when you start discussing it with your partner, rather than just saying things for the sake of saying things—which could place unnecessary strain on your relationship.
If you and your partner find that you don’t agree with one another, hear each other’s opinions or ideas out and then discuss the issue as logically as you can. However, there are a lot of emotions involved in any relationship, which means that you inevitably wind up getting sadder or angrier than you would were you to make the same decision in another context.
The best way to reach a mutually beneficial agreement is to hear out either side’s case and decide on what works best for your relationship in a number of different categories i.e., financial security, emotional fulfillment, long-term goal achievement, and what is most mutually beneficial. In many cases, issues like this can result in some pretty nasty conflict if they’re not addressed correctly and openly—so, the best thing to do is talk about your goals or desires with each other as directly as possible so that you can clearly understand what either party wants, and if need be, get an emotionally uninvolved third party in on the conversation (such as a therapist) so that you can get feedback on your positions in the discussion and get some guidance from a more neutral source.”
Seeking Help from a Couple’s Therapist: A Neutral Third Party
As Backe mentioned above, sometimes it’s necessary to get a third party involved—more specifically, a therapist or counselor. These are the perfect people for the job, as mental health professionals are not only unbiased, but they possess a particular set of skills that will help you and your partner reach the best solution for moving forward. Erika Miley, licensed mental health counselor, works with various couples and helps them by posing the following questions:
1) What is your love path or map, and what are the stops along the way?
Many times, I ask couples how they came to the place they are today and what their plans are for their relationship for the future. Sometimes, as people, we get so focused on our own perspective that we forget to check our perspective with the people we care about most. Creating a shared picture of your hopes for the relationship is something that can be rewarding. With more knowledge of each other, we can create admiration, yet sometimes we get focused on the stressor rather than trying to look at a bigger picture of a relationship.
2) Are any questions negotiable or non-negotiable?
It is helpful to identify some of these questions early in the relationship and truly check in with your partner about big questions of life. By that, I mean if a partner tells you they don’t want children, you should understand this person’s wants and needs without putting your expectations on them. For instance, responding to the question of children in your mind with, “They’ll come around,” or purely ignoring them and putting off the questions until those decisions become more urgent will end poorly for any relationship.
3) Can you sit in the discomfort of asking these tough questions?
Many times we will avoid the “big values” questions because we struggle to deal with how these questions feel inside of us. It is also okay to go to couples counseling to get help in these situations. Sometimes we need an outside perspective that can aid us in managing our difficult feelings around these questions and reaching a resolution. Couples who are intentional about going to therapy together as a preventative measure seem to be able to manage the bumps in the road of their relationship better than those who wait until things are really hard. It is possible to resolve these issues, the resolution may be the relationship ends or maybe the love map changes.